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One hundred years of memorial gates marked

Attendees of a small ceremony to recognise the centenary of Martinborough’s Soldiers’ Memorial Gates. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

A small, socially-distanced ceremony on Saturday did not let the centenary of Martinborough’s Soldiers’ Memorial Gates go unnoticed.

One hundred years to the day the gates were erected, residents gathered to mark the occasion and remember why they were installed.

A familiar sight in Martinborough, the gates commemorate soldiers who died in World War I and South Africa’s Boer War.

This became even more poignant after WWII.

Matua Wiremu Dawson, a kaumatua and RSA veteran, opened the ceremony with a karakia, while historian Mate Higginson told those assembled that the square’s gardens was meant to be an antidote to the carnage of war.

The losses of World War I were still fresh in many people’s memories, and so they inscribed the names of the fallen on the two pillars that support the arch.

They are flanked by two smaller pillars.

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen unveiled a plaque to mark the date for those in another 100 years.

“For many years these gates have been a focus and fixture of the town, and it would be easy to take them for granted. Much of our heritage passes this way,” he said.

“But I know Mate and the Martinborough community felt it important that this date did not go by unnoticed.”

The event was hosted by the Martinborough Community Board, and supported by the South Wairarapa District Council.

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